Sunday, November 01, 2009

NASA Swift satellite sees furthest ever cosmic explosion

NASA reported on 23 April 2009 that their Swift satellite and337652main_IR_afterglow_annotated_226[1] a international team of astronomers detected a ten-second gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age.

The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen. 

In line with other posts in this blog about basic questions, this event sheds further light (no pun intended) on the age and size of the universe.

To quote: "Swift was designed to catch these very distant bursts," said Swift lead scientist Neil Gehrels at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The incredible distance to this burst exceeded our greatest expectations -- it was a true blast from the past."

"The burst most likely arose from the explosion of a massive star," said Derek Fox at Pennsylvania State University. "We're seeing the demise of a star -- and probably the birth of a black hole -- in one of the universe's earliest stellar generations."

Read the NASA article to view a short animation of a gamma-ray burst and find out more.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How wide is the universe? (again)

I’ve just been checking out a YouTube flash video downloader, a free Windows desktop one from FLVsoft (Moyea Software) 

I tested it out on a couple of cosmology videos, and it worked very well, with a number of useful configuration options and a nice built-in Flash player. … Recommended!

I’ve tested a number of YouTube downloaders over the last year or two, and some of them are quirky or unreliable. Another recommended one is browser-based KickYouTube. This one couldn’t be simpler to use. There’s no installation required, you merely insert the word “kick” into the URL of the YouTube page immediately in front of the “” part) and press the Enter key, select your desired output file format (such as FLV or MP4) and click the green Go button to initiate the download.

Anyway, in the spirit of this blog, here are the two videos that I used for testing the YouTube downloader:


Flying Through the Big Wide Universe

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